There are always posters in football forums who blame FFA for every single problem in Australian football. I await the day the nets at my local park for the Under-6s are not set correctly with calls for CEO David Gallop resignation.
Last year it was at fever pitch as FFA had a number of difficult calls to make as various groups asked, nay demanded, their views be heard and how they were critical to football’s future growth.
FFA were portrayed as the governing body so error-ridden and inept it’s a wonder they managed to get officials to matches.
I have some issues where FFA have not performed as well as I would have liked them to. But in the words of Justin Hayward, it’s a Question of Balance.
I decided to write what I see as the key achievements of the FFA over the last 11 years, and the key things they got wrong.
Before I start I should point out that the National Soccer League crowds averaged about 4000. Take out Perth Glory, South Melbourne and the crowd numbers drop further.
Further, the NSL was broke, inept, corrupt, inward looking, full of internal issues, and by and large football was at the fringe of Australian sport.
• Having all A-League and Socceroos matches broadcast Australia wide
• The establishment of the A-League
• Moving from Oceania to the AFC
• Making all World Cups since the establishment of the A-League
• Winning the Asian Cup and also finishing runners-up previously
• Making football a mainstream sport
• Develop the Socceroos into Australia’s premier male team
• Develop the Matildas into Australia’s main female team
• Establishment of national coaching standards
• Establishment of national selection standards.
• Establishment of the W-League
• Unite football’s many and various tribes
• Developing the FFA Cup
• Developing the NPL
• Sponsorship more than double that of the NRL and ARU
• Advanced negotiations for the next media deal
• Obtain government support for many programs
• Create an environment where most teams have reasonable sponsorships
Key poor decisions
• Treatment of Perth Glory in A-League’s first season, which resulted in 50 per cent of fans walking away, and arguably Australia best ever football administrator, Nick Tanna, walking away from football. Only now do Glory look like recovering to where they once were.
• Not communicating football culture to the mainstream media.
• Lack of direct communication with the association park teams
• Keeping in place the state associations
• Neglecting A-League during World Cup bid
• Handover of power from Frank to Steven Lowy
• Poor selection of expansion clubs in North Queensland Fury, Gold Coast United and Melbourne Heart (where they did not create a difference with Melbourne Victory]
• Lack of promotion of the A-League
• The missed bookings of stadiums
• Being seen as a more reactive than proactive body.
Over to football fans now. My assessment is a high credit maybe pushing a distinction, but nowhere near a high distinction.
John O’Neill: Distinction
Downgraded due to the length of the seven-year media deal, and the initial treatment of Perth Glory.
Ben Buckley: Credit
Did some good admin work, downgraded for turning down a $60 million media deal, his selection of North Queensland, Gold Coast and Heart as expansion teams and his poor media presentations.
David Gallop: High credit, low distinction
Has arguably had the best and the worst. Best in the sense of how well football was established when he arrived, worst in the sense of fans’ perception about how much power he and FFA have.
Downgraded for his late response in supporting football fans, and for still not adequately explaining the sport’s culture to the mainstream.